Bonhoeffer’s theology is multifaceted. It can be approached from many different sides and applied for different purposes. In part, this is because Bonhoeffer developed such a rich theological narrative, in part, because his theology addressed people in their context, in part, it is because his theology stands under the influence of many, often opposing voices. It is no wonder that there are many interpretations of Bonhoeffer’s theology that often conflict with each other. There is even a [book] out that addresses the problem of the many different Bonhoeffer’s that are paraded as the original in support of this or that theological or ethical stance.
I recently got interviewed by Clint Heacock from the MindShift Podcast about the deconstruction of my evangelical faith. Clint also asked me about the theological process involved and if there was any reconstruction after it all fell apart. I did retain something—or better, found something new—after all. It is called the theology of the cross.
By the way, the theologian I refer to but whose name eludes me (as always) during the interview is Justo L. González.
Vrijheid is mooi. Vrijheid is moeilijk. Allebei de uitspraken zijn waar. Er is geen groter goed dan de menselijke vrijheid. Het is bijna een open deur intrappen dat te zeggen. En toch is vrijheid tegelijk heel erg kwetsbaar. De vrijheid die wij nu al enkele honderden jaren mogen genieten in het Westen is maar een korte bliep in de geschiedenis van de mensheid. En zelfs dan is die vrijheid vaak ten koste gegaan van de vrijheid van anderen. Denk aan bijvoorbeeld de Afrikanen die als slaven naar de America’s verscheept werden of de zgn. “inheemse” bevolking van de landen die door het Westen gekoloniseerd waren. Vaak ook werd onze vrijheid bedreigd of zelfs onderbroken. Terecht gaat in Nederland Bevrijdingsdag vaak over hoe onze vrijheid als een kostbaar maar kwetsbaar geschenk beschermd moet worden.
Europe has abandoned religion at a very fundamental level and on a widespread scale. Religion no longer provides an interpretive framework for how the world fits together. It no longer informs social, economic, or political ethics. Religion is still present but either as a largely irrelevant entity that has absolutely no impact on lawmaking, politics, or economy (Christianity) or as a menace that needs to be contained before the genie gets out of the bottle (Islam).
I’ve been an evangelical Christian all of my life. Though I’ve drifted away from much of what goes under the flag of evangelicalism certain emphases of the movement will remain dear to me. One of these is the centrality of the person and work of Jesus Christ. For evangelicals, the personal relationship with Christ matters more than anything. It starts with the question whether one has accepted Jesus Christ as savior and lord in one’s life. The direct unmitigated relationship with Christ is at the center of the evangelical experience. I still resonate with what theologians call a Christocentric emphasis. It’s all about Christ; nothing else matters.
Theologians think about a lot of things. They think about God, the world, and also the God-world relationship. They call this theology. We theologians have turned this word theology into a verb: “theologizing,” or “doing theology.” This is because theology is an activity. It is the act of shaping the imagination about how the world and God are related and what this means for humanity, not just theoretically, philosophically, or theologically, but especially: practically and ethically. Theology is, together with philosophy, music, and art, about how we imagine and embody time and space. Read More
Bonhoeffer’s concept of religionlessness should be understood within the framework of his theology of the cross.Read More
Bonhoeffer and Religious Pluralism: Towards a Dialectic of Christocentric Ontology and Christocentric Alterity
The reality of religious pluralism in our modern societies is a matter of urgent concern for Christian theology. This article aims to make themes in Bonhoeffer’s theology useful for religious pluralism. The two themes explored are Christocentric ontology, which describes the transformation of believers into the form of being that is called being for others, and Christocentric alterity which recognizes Christ as the center of the world and acknowledges the boundary of divine transcendence as emerging in the encounter with the religious or non-religious other. Making use of Bonhoeffer’s engagement with Karl Barth, this article rejects John Hick’s epistemological pluralism in favor of Christocentric ontology while placing its own constructive proposal alongside the work of Tom Greggs and Gavin D’Costa as a third option based on the Bonhoeffer’s theologia crucis. Lastly, the dialectic between Christocentric ontology and Christocentric alterity is discussed in order to clarify the function of the claim that Jesus is Lord within the context of the pluralism proposed in this article.Read More
Review of Taking Hold of the Real: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Profound Worldliness of Christianity by Barry Harvey. Cascade Books, 2015.
This Review was Published in Cultural Encounters in 2017.
“Taking Hold of the Real” by Barry Harvey is a powerful book with an important message for Christians today. More than yet another monograph on Bonhoeffer, it offers a compelling analysis of the state of our Western society and the Church’s complicity in its ills. With Bonhoeffer’s help, Harvey seeks to describe an alternative way of being in the world that patterns itself after Christ’s being with and for the world. Harvey takes up Bonhoeffer’s concept of this-worldliness (the insistence that Christian existence is to be radically worldly in a christocentric sense) within the context of a world come of age. The world come of age is yet another term Bonhoeffer coined while in prison to describe the emergence of a modern world that had thrown off religion as an unnecessary garment as it encountered a new dawn of rationality and alleged maturity. How should Christians be Christians in such a world, Bonhoeffer wondered? Read More
How Bonhoeffer can be an ally for Trump-voting evangelicals:
x Learning true courage
x Learning to understand the times; DB did not struggle against loss of political influence
x Learning to put one’s life danger willingly for the good
x Transformed hearts leads to serving the other in humility
x Christ as the center means following Christ: not culture war, but change/subversion from below
x Eschewing the attempt to establish God’s kingdom on earth
x Not waiting for the apocalypse but affirming embodied reality and the otherness of the other
x objectification of God